Terms And Conditions

We often send the terms and conditions out with our mailing packs so that customers can read the two page document that gives them full information about a product. They then know exactly what they are buying before calling us.

I asked a customer if she had received the terms and conditions from us, regarding a particular policy that she wanted to take out.

‘Yes. I have them.’ She told me after a few seconds of flicking through papers.

Not altogether convinced I asked her if she’d read them.

‘No, but I’ll do it now. It’s only one paragraph.’ She answered confidently.

Well it’s not one paragraph. It’s a two page document. However, I was impressed with the fact that saw it as one paragraph and was able to read it within ten seconds.


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No Letter

‘I want to take out a policy.’ She told me.

‘Have you had a letter from us?’ I asked thinking she’d probably had a mailing advertising one of our products.

‘No I haven’t.’

So I took a few details from her and then I checked again. ‘Have you had a letter or have you had a look on the internet?’

‘No I haven’t.’ She repeated.

‘Can I ask how you heard about the cover?’

‘I had it with you before.’ She answered.

‘Ok. And you say you’ve had no recent letters from us?’ I checked again as I know that letters have gone out recently to certain areas.

‘I haven’t had anything.’

So I began to run through our usual regulatory spiel but within a few seconds she had interrupted me.

‘Yes, it says all that on this letter I’ve got.’

Lovely. You have to experience it to believe it.


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In The Lonely Hour

Non-Advised Sales

We are non-advised sales at my company. This means that we cannot give advise on the suitability of a product for a customer. We can ask questions to try and point the customer in the right direction, or to perhaps jog their mind, but ultimately it has to be the customer’s decision on whether something is right for them or not. Sometimes it can be more than difficult.

‘I had a letter about (our company). I just want the price.’ He mumbled.

‘Do you have the reference off the letter?’ I asked.

‘No. Letter about (our company). Just want price.’ He mumbled again.

‘Well you are through to (company name), so what do you want the price on?’

‘Want the price for insurance.’

‘Which insurance?’ I persevered.

(company name)

‘We do a lot of different insurance products. What do you want to get covered?’

(company name)‘ He repeated.

‘What does the letter say?’ I tried a different tactic.

‘Tells me about (company name), so I want the price.’

Sometimes it’s just best to end the call. I politely told him to decide what he wanted to get covered in his home, to find the reference on the letter, to read the letter, and then to call us back.

If he had rung a company that was not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (luckily we are) then the agent would probably have seen this as a prime opportunity to flog every product on their books. Money for the business but certainly not good for a customer who so obviously has no understanding of why he is ringing.

And there are still some insurance companies that are not regulated by the FCA. So my advice – while I’m not at work – is to know exactly what you want before you ring any company, and make sure you read their literature from cover to cover.


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Same Cover?

A guy called asking to take out cover. He came through on a particular line for a particular cover we do. The customer then proceeded to give me the reference for a completely different cover. It didn’t throw me. I merely double checked the reference and proceeded to set up the policy. I reached the price details and the customer then proceeded to tell me that he had a different price on another sheet of paper. After some questioning it appeared that he had received mailings for two different covers at different prices covering different things.

I pointed this out to the customer and explained the difference between the two policies. However, the customer was having none of this. Why? Because he had received the mailings at the same time.

‘You may have received them at the same time,’ I told him, ‘but they are different policies. They are called different names and are different prices.’

‘Yes, but I had them on the same day. And this one is a cheaper price so why are you charging me the more expensive price?’

‘Because you asked me to set up the other cover. Why don’t you read the letters first and then decide which policy you want? Then you can call us back.’

‘But I received these on the same day!’

What I really wanted to say was: ‘Just because you had them both at the same time doesn’t mean they are the same fucking policy! They cover different things. If you actually read them you would see that. It’s not rocket science. You don’t need a master’s in brain surgery. If they have different names and different prices they are OBVIOUSLY DIFFERENT COVERS you dumb bastard. Do I really need to explain the difference again? It’s very simple. They cover different things. That’s why they are different prices!’ However, I managed to keep my cool and was very polite at all times.

I decided it would be best to take a walk away from the desk after this call.

Marketing

I decided to dedicate this blog to the hard-working marketing department. These dedicated people who spent several years slogging away at university.

These wonderful university graduates thoughtfuly produce the literature that appears in our mailings and advertisements. They painstakingly and dedicatedly stoop all day long over the designs. They pour their heart-felt souls into producing the mail shots that will attract customers to the business.

Then they send them all out at the same time.

Is this the same for every company’s marketing department? I can’t answer that one.

For the time that I’ve worked at this company (I’m part of the foundations by the way) our marketing department have always operated in the same way. They have these wonderful ideas for mailings and advertisements and then publish everything all on the same day.

We are an insurance company dealing with domestic properties, including tenanted dwellings, and we offer many different types of insurance. Not to mention the extra policies available on the net.

This week we have mail shots going out for three different single policies, three different combined policies, and then for the landlords covers. Great! Call queues galore.

We now have non stop calls coming through for new policies, as well as customers ringing to change details or general enquiries. On top of that we’ve got people ringing with questions about the policies on the net, which are also on special offer at the moment. We haven’t even got time to breathe, never mind think about what we are doing.

Where is the sense in this? I know any company will want new customers, and the more the better. But trying to get so much new business all at once when there is not enough staff to cope is ridiculous.

Because there’s such a high call volume a lot of potential customers are giving up. Why should they be kept waiting for 15 minutes before they can even speak to anyone? Of course they’re going to hang up and go elsewhere. So there’s a lot of business being lost needlessly.

If these mail shots and ads were sent out one at a time, maybe ten days apart, the staff would be able to cope with the volume of new business. Potential customers wouldn’t be kept waiting so we wouldn’t be losing as many. But surely this should be common sense? Obviously these particular graduates don’t have the organisational ability that should, in reality, go hand-in-hand with marketing.

It’s not rocket science. It’s a simple matter of communication between departments – check that there’s adequate staff. If there’s mail shots being sent out, then stagger the drop. And definitely don’t send them out at the same time as the offers go live on the internet.

As I menitoned, I don’t know if this is the same in all or most companies. If it is, then no wonder our economy is in a sorry state with so many companies closing down. I hope our company doesn’t close – it’s a big international company so I can’t see it happening. They do need to learn from their mistakes though, and at the moment that does not seem to be happening.

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